There’s no doubt that the mainstream ute market is slowly moving more and more upstream. Once upon a time, Mitsubishi’s Triton was often squaring off against a similarly priced D-Max. Isuzu has since fled this section of the ute market, and is fighting amongst the likes of the more expensive Ranger and HiLux.
You could say that this 2020 Mitsubishi Triton GLX+, amongst the more pragmatic of choices in the segment, is keeping it real.
And although I’m sure Mitsubishi, like the other manufacturers, hungrily eyes the slice of pie left by the departed Holden Colorado, a constantly improving offering from the likes of LDV and Ssangyong will also be keeping the Triton honest at the lower end of the market.
While Mitsubishi's 4x4 ute was updated with a new look and plenty of extra tech not so long ago in late 2018, the onslaught of constantly refreshed competition means the market has never been more tech-laden, more premium, and more aspirational.
The GLX+ has an interesting mix of spec at its disposal. While there’s not a lot of special design or finish going on inside, there is a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, locking rear differential, 16-inch alloy wheels and climate control.
Throw in some sharp drive-away deals and a big seven-year warranty, and you can see why the Triton is such a popular seller.
While pricing for a diesel-powered 4x4 double-cab Triton starts as low as $35,990 drive-away for a manual GLX, our automatic GLX+ has an advertised drive-away price of $41,490.
If you'd prefer some additional exterior garnishes and can live without the diff locker, it's worth checking out the Triton GLX-R specification.
With a bullbar bolted on the front, which costs $4000 fitted, and a nice Impulse Blue paint job ($740), the asking price for our tester is up noticeably to $46,230 drive-away.
Under the bonnet is a now experienced 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine making 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm. This runs through a six-speed automatic or manual transmission, costing $2500 extra for one less pedal in the footwell, which we have.
Unladen, the Triton feels sprightlier than the relatively meagre numbers suggest. Throttle tuning is responsive, especially in the first increments of travel. From there, the gearbox and torque converter in particular do a bit of heavy lifting to help cover off the relatively narrow torque band.
There is enough acceleration on offer, but often at the expense of a down-change and some brief high-rev droning. Options of more powerful 4x4 utes aren’t hard to find these days. But in saying that, the Triton doesn’t necessarily feel underpowered. Gear changes are smooth and quick, often shifting around for that extra nudge of grunt when you need it.
While higher-specification Tritons benefit from Mitsubishi's unique Super Select 2WD, AWD and 4WD system, the GLX+ gets away with a more rudimentary part-time 4x4 system with shift-on-the-fly engagement, which is very common for the segment.
In terms of fuel economy, we used about 9.5 litres per 100km, which was a combination of unladen highway and laden town driving. That compares to Mitsubishi's claim of 8.6L/100km on the combined cycle. Our readout hovered in the high eights before we loaded up the Triton, but then we started exploring the bottom end of double-digits. After a little more unladen highway driving, it settled down again.
The relatively short wheelbase does seem to have an impact on its ride. There isn’t the same suppleness that the likes of the Ranger and new D-Max can offer, and something that the HiLux has recently improved upon. There is some harshness and jittering over bumps and rough surfaces in this Triton.
The steering, hydraulically assisted, feels evenly weighted and nicely matched to the rest of the vehicle. While it’s not finger-twirling light at a stop and low speeds, it’s still good enough.
That short wheelbase does yield a relatively narrow turning circle for the segment: 11.8m. Most others hover around that 12.5m mark.
Once loaded to GVM, the Triton started to show off some weaknesses. A slight positive rake quickly turned heavily negative, with the leaf spring inverted under the load. There was still some spacing between the bump stops and chassis rails, but the amount of lean that the suspension incurred brought the front up by a sizeable margin.
We moved the 900kg bag of sand as far forward as possible, but the relatively short wheelbase of the Triton meant most of that load was still aft of the rear axle. And the suspension was struggling to keep the load under control.
While there was enough suspension travel on offer to allow bumps to be soaked up reasonably well while driving, damping is noticeably underdone, and body roll is in plentiful supply. You’re forced to drive slowly and steadily to allow the suspension to keep up with managing the weight.
The steering also cops a negative knock. The change in ride height up front kills the off-centre steering feel, which then turns into a somewhat sharp response after more input. It’s especially noticeable at highway speeds, and leaves the Triton feeling skittish on lane changes and sweeping bends.
If you’re looking to load up heavily for work or play, I’d recommend putting some money aside for an aftermarket suspension kit to suit the loads.
Like most other utes at this pricepoint, the Triton’s interior is about hard-wearing durability – vinyl floors and hard plastics, save for a couple of soft patches for your knees and elbows – and a good dose of practicality thrown in.
Maybe this is a personal gripe, but my habit of jumping into a car, turning it on and letting oil splash around while I plug in phones and seatbelts doesn’t agree with this Triton. Mitsubishi seems to think such behaviour is dangerous, and beeps at you annoyingly in a bid to change your behaviour.
There are two USB outlets in the dashboard, along with a 12V and HDMI port. I’m not sure why you’d ever need such a thing, but the additional 12V outlet in the glovebox is a handy addition.
The seats feel broad and comfortable, but adjustment seems a little limited. They slide back a very long way, but raising the seat base also tilts it forward noticeably. A shorter colleague told us they couldn’t get comfortable behind the wheel. I personally didn’t find things so bad, but most other utes do offer better overall ergonomics.
A digital speed readout would be a handy addition to the multifunction display in front of the driver, as would a volume knob for ease of use when on the road.
Mitsubishi’s so-called J-pillar (a curved D-pillar) yields good second-row space, with a slightly elevated seating position giving good visibility, head room and leg room. Amenities are in short supply, with no power outlets and no air-conditioning vents. However, a roof-mounted fan system circulates air from the first to second row.
The Triton’s seat base is bolted down, unlike a lot of the competition. However, the seat back flips forward in one motion to reveal a surprising amount of storage space, along with a bottle jack.
Moving to the tray, you’ve got a space that measures in at 1520mm by 1470mm (without accounting for the tub liner), with six tie-down points and a tub liner in our tester. We noticed when ratchet-strapping down the 900-odd kilograms of sand in the back, applying a bit of tension onto the straps saw the tie-down points move, as whatever they are mounted to bent inwards under the load.
Speaking of loads, let’s talk some numbers. Without any accessories, the Triton weighs in at 1955kg of kerb mass. Throw in a 2900kg gross vehicle mass, and you’re left with a 945kg payload.
In our case, the 39kg of bullbar also needs to be deducted from the payload. So, we have 906kg of payload.
While other utes sport a 3500kg towing capacity, the Triton makes do with 3100kg. The 5885kg gross combination mass is decent, allowing you to tow 2985kg when the vehicle is fully laden. On the other side of the coin, there is still 830 kilograms of payload available when towing the full amount.
While a 3500kg towing capacity might be appealing on marketing material, a limited gross combination mass limits you from using both towing and payload capacities at the same time. The Triton’s 3100kg towing capacity could be perceived as being a little more honest.
And to be truly honest, none of these utes are particularly happy when towing such heavy amounts. To see how the Triton fared in a towing comparison against its peers, check out this story.
Mitsubishi’s seven-year warranty is a ripper. Initially offered as a promotion, it hasn’t been removed as yet. It's a strong offering, and only matched by the Ssangyong Musso in the ute market.
Servicing is covered by a three-year capped-price program costing $299 each visit with 15,000km and 12-month intervals. Although, as part of that seven-year warranty, Mitsubishi is also offering three years of free servicing on the Triton.
The Triton continues to play to its chief strength of value in an increasingly gentrified 4x4 ute segment. Its loaded performance is disappointing, and the driveline isn't as powerful as other offerings.
This pragmatic GLX+ gives you the advanced safety and some handy tech we all desire: especially Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While the Isuzu D-Max has now moved further upstream, Nissan's Navara now measures up closely against the Triton and should be cross-shopped.
If you want a 4x4 ute for light loading and on a light budget, the Triton is still worth a close look.